On and off the floor, Dawson is a leader

Rochester forward Dan Dawson said it was 'a relief' to finally win his first NLL title. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
Rochester forward Dan Dawson said it was 'a relief' to finally win his first NLL title. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

“Dangerous” Dan Dawson translates what it means to be a member of a team from the turf to the working world each and every day. From going to the firehouse to practice with the Knighthawks, Dawson knows how important it is not only to be a member of a team, but a leader. Dawson was traded from Philadelphia to Rochester along with his brother Paul last season in a deal that sent four players and a 2014 second-round draft pick to Philadelphia. “Throughout our career we have always managed to land on the same team and it’s been a blessing,” said Paul. “Being traded to Rochester, we were both really excited to come to the national champions.”

“I’ve never been on a team that I haven’t had to get on a flight to go to a home game for,” said Dawson. “The biggest thing I can take from being traded is the team environment and the family atmosphere that the Knighthawks bring. It’s an amazing ownership group and I couldn’t be more happy being associated with Curt and his philosophy of family first.”

Since being with the Knighthawks, Dawson has been an integral part of the team, coming in second on the team in points (27) this season and tallying 75 points in 2013. Last season, after 12 seasons in the National Lacrosse League, Dawson was finally able to add an NLL Championship to his long list of achievements with his brother by his side.

“I was searching a long time for that championship and for it to finally come was a relief more than anything,” said Dawson. “You work so hard every year to win a championship and it was very fulfilling to win it last year. Any time you get to share those moments with your family, it makes it extra special.”

February 8 marked Dawson’s 185th straight NLL game, the fourth-longest streak in league history behind Colin Doyle, Steve Toll, and Shawn Williams. He added one goal and four assists to the Knighthawks’ 9-6 win over the Buffalo Bandits that night.

“Dan’s a floor leader,” said Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson. “He leads by example and when he speaks, everyone listens. He’s been around for a while and it’s awesome learning from him because he’s been there and done that and I’m still a young guy up and coming.”

“Team” is not only the word Dawson uses when referring to the Knighthawks. He also compares his five-year career as a firefighter to being on a team and emphasizes that there is a clear cross-over between going to the fire house every day and going to practice and games.

“Besides playing a sport, the one thing I cherish most is being a part of a team and the environment,” said Dawson. “There’s very much a direct translation to being a lacrosse player and being a full-time firefighter. I’m very lucky both organizations allow me to do two things that I love. I have two amazing careers and couldn’t be more thankful.”

Being active in the community and giving back is something that Dawson feels honored to be able to do. He runs lacrosse clinics and camps for kids, giving them the chance to learn from one of the sports’ best. Not only is this self-rewarding for the veteran lacrosse player, it is also his chance to give kids the rare opportunity to be able to work directly with a professional athlete.

“We have an obligation as professional athletes to grow the sport,” said Dawson. “The easiest way to do that is to get them at a young age. Our sport is very unique and unlike any other sport, the athletes are very accessible to the players at the youth level. It is great to be able to have that interaction and to be able to put a smile on a kid’s face.”

At the camps, Dawson stresses to kids that the most important thing is to have fun while they are learning to play. His goal is not only to make them better players; it is also to encourage them to play the game with respect. Educating kids on the culture and history of the game and emphasizing that they represent the sport every time they step on the field is what Dawson takes pride in.

Dawson is a force both on and off of the field. Though his individual accomplishments on the field speak for themselves, what makes him stand out is his commitment to a team mentality at all times and his willingness to reach out to the community to spread his knowledge and love for the game he has had such an influence in.

“He’s a guy that leads by example on the floor for us as well as off the floor,” said Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen. “A lot of guys look up to him and he’s a good role model everywhere.”

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